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Understanding Healthcare Services Usage and Enhancing Quality of Life for Patients with Cognitive Impairment

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In a study conducted by researchers from Duke-NUS Medical School and the NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine (NUS Medicine), the additional healthcare costs incurred by individuals with cognitive impairment have been quantified.

The findings shed light on the financial burden faced by patients and emphasise the need for proactive strategies to manage unplanned healthcare utilisation.

Cognitive Impairment

The Cost Burden of Cognitive Impairment

The researchers analysed data from the population-based Singapore Chinese Health Study, focusing on individuals with cognitive impairment.

On average, those with cognitive impairment spend approximately 17 percent more per year on healthcare compared to their peers without cognitive impairment. This translates to an additional cost of around SGD 700 per person annually.

The primary contributors to this burden are emergency department visits and subsequent hospital admissions.

Projected Impact as the Population Ages

In 2019, an estimated 44,000 individuals in Singapore lived with some form of cognitive impairment. As Singapore’s population ages, this number is expected to rise significantly.

The Ministry of Health projects that by 2030, the number of people living with dementia alone could reach 152,000, and by 2050, it could rise to 187,000.

Considering these increases, the additional healthcare spending related to cognitive impairment is projected to reach SGD 106 million in 2030 and SGD 131 million in 2050.

Strategies for Managing the Burden

Proactive monitoring of individuals at risk of cognitive impairment can help reduce high-cost medical events. Identifying warning signs early allows for timely intervention.

Educating caregivers is crucial. They play a vital role in managing the care of their loved ones. Greater awareness and support can lead to better outcomes.

Cognitive Impairment

Partnerships with nursing homes and other care facilities can improve overall care for individuals with cognitive impairment, benefiting both health and finances.

A Call for Resilient Healthcare Systems

This research underscores the importance of understanding healthcare utilisation patterns and highlights the path toward a more resilient and patient-centric healthcare system.

  • Challenges Ahead: Rising rates of cognitive impairment, coupled with an aging population, pose challenges to healthcare resources.
  • Preparedness: Planners must anticipate exponential growth in the burden and focus on preventive measures.
  • Empowering Lives: By addressing cognitive impairment effectively, we can empower people to lead healthier lives longer.

As we navigate the challenges posed by cognitive impairment, collaboration, education, and early intervention will be key to improving the quality of life for affected individuals and their caregivers.

Funding and acknowledgements (as shared in the press release):

  • The study received generous funding from the Singapore Millennium Foundation.
  • Data collection for the Singapore Chinese Health Study was supported by the Singapore National Medical Research Council (NMRC/CSA/0055/2013) and the Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health, National University of Singapore.

Photo by Volodymyr Hryshchenko and by Jem Sahagun on Unsplash